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Common Buzzard
Buteo buteo

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Buzzard, Desert Buzzard (japonicus), Eurasian Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard (vulpinus).

Buteo buteo
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Distribution: Afrotropical/Indomalayan/Palearctic. Breeds across the temperate and subarctic Palearctic Region from Fennoscandia and northern Eurasia south to the Mediterranean region, TURKEY, and IRAN, and east through the Himalayas to northeastern CHINA, JAPAN, KURILS, and RYUKYU ISLANDS with endemic populations on CAPE VERDE ISLANDS, AZORES, CANARY ISLANDS, MADEIRA, SICILY, and CORSICA; northern populations winter south to Africa, Indian subcontinent, JAPAN, KOREA, southern CHINA, and southern Asia, straggling to the PHILIPPINES, GREATER SUNDA ISLANDS, and BALI. more....

Subspecies: 8 races. B. b. arrigonii: CORSICA and SARDINIA; B. b. bannermani: CAPE VERDE ISLANDS; B. b. buteo: Europe east to FINLAND, ROMANIA, and TURKEY; MADEIRA; winters in the breeding range and south to LIBERIA; B. b. insularum: CANARY ISANDS; B. b. menetriesi: Southern Crimea and Caucasus south to eastern TURKEY and northern IRAN; B. b. refectus: Western CHINA and perhaps Himalayas; B. b. rothschildi: AZORES; B. b. vulpinus: Northern FINLAND and European RUSSIA east to Yenisey River and south to northern Caucasus and cenral Asia; winters in Africa south of the Sahara and also in southern Asia. more....

Taxonomy: Sometimes considered conspecific with B. oreophilus and B. brachypterus and forms a superspecies with these two forms and possibly B. jamaicensis and B. ventralis. Gjershaug et al. (2006) recently reported the successful breeding of a mixed pair of Common Buzzard (male) and Rough-legged Buzzard (female) in Norway. Bildstein and Zalles (2005) have suggested that the insular endemic races may have derived from "migration dosing," which occurs in areas of misdirected migration, stranding isolated individuals unable to return to their usual breeding grounds. Using molecular sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Clouet and Wink (2000) found that the insular populations on the Cape Verde archipelago (bannermani) and Socotra Islands "socotrae" are genetically very similar and that they share a common origin with the Long-legged Buzzard, B. rufinus, rather than with the Common Buzzard B.b. buteo. Porter and Kirwan (2010) concluded that the Socotra Island population should be regarded as a separate species, based on a suite of characters, and they are followed here. Based on a molecular study, Kruckenhauser et al. (2004) proposed treating populations of japonicus and refectus as full species. more....

Movements: Partial migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas in all populations (Bildstein 2006). Populations in Fennoscandia and northern Eurasia are highly migratory, whereas others, including the six largely insular races and the breeding population in the British Isles, are sedentary. Some individuals of the nominate race migrate from their northern European breeding grounds to winter in continental Europe and northern Africa. This species is an altitudinal migrant in some areas, e.g., Romania (Roberts 2000). The race vulpinus ("Steppe Buzzard") is a trans-Equatorial migrant, breeding in Eurasia and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. It begins to arrive in southern Africa in September with numbers increasing until November. The last birds depart in March and early April. The race japonicus migrates between northeastern and southeastern Asia along northern portions of the "East Asian Continental Flyway," but not along the flyway's southern half, where passage would require water crossings of more than 25 km (Bildstein and Zalles 2005). This species is also an altitudinal migrant in some areas. more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from woodland to urban areas, but throughout most of its vast range, it is more common in mesic habitats than in arid regions. In its breeding range, densities are highest in areas of mixed farming, hedgerows, and small woodland and scrub (Brown and Grice 2005). The so-called "Steppe Buzzard" of Eurasia actually prefers woodland or coniferous forest habitats, but on its wintering range in Africa, it is found in open country habitats, including dwarf shrubland, grassland, savanna, open woodland, thornveld, and fynbos. It can also be found in dense woodland and forests, including plantations of exotic trees (Boshoff 1997). Usually found singly, but sometimes occurs in large concentrations and is gregarious before and during migration. Spends much time perched on utility poles, or circling over open areas,throughout its range. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: In the breeding range in northern, eastern and central Europe, voles are the most important prey, and other small rodents, birds, frogs, and insects are also taken. Buzzards also feed on carrion and invertebrates, including earthworms). In the winter range in southern Africa, prey includes rodents, lizards, and insects. Most prey are captured after a descent from a perch, but this species also soars to locate potential food, and it also hovers like a kestrel. more....

Breeding: Builds a large platform stick nest lined with smaller sticks and green foliage and usually placed in a tree, but sometimes on rock ledges or on quarry faces. Clutch size in most of its range is 2-4 eggs, which are white with brown markings. The incubation period is 28-30 days. Sometimes rather unwary near the nest. more....

Conservation: One of the most common and widespread diurnal birds of prey. Palearctic breeding populations are affected negatively by human persecution, pesticides, poisoning, and habitat destruction, but there has been a 73% increase in population indices in Europe since 1980 (PECBMS 2009). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: The European population was estimated at 690,000 to 1,000,000 breeding pairs by BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council (2000), and this estimate was later revised upward to 710,000 to 1,200,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International). more....

Important References: 
BirdLife International/European Bird Census Council. 2000. European bird
  populations: estimates and trends. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 10.
  BirdLife International,Cambridge, UK.
Bijlsma, R.G. 1997. Buteo buteo -- buzzard. Pp. 160-161 in W.J.M.
  Hagemeijer and M.J. Blair (eds.), The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds.
  T. & A.D. Poyser, London.
Boshoff, A. 1997. Steppe Buzzard. Pp. 208-209 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Haring, E., L. Kruckenhauser, A. Gamauf, M.J. Riesing, and W. Pinsker.
  2001. The complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome of Buteo buteo
  (Aves, Accipitridae) indicates an early split in the phylogeny of raptors.
  Molecular Biology and Evolution 18:1892-1904.
Kruckenhauser, L., E. Haring, W. Pinsker, M.J. Reising, H. Winkler, M.
  Wink, and A. Gamauf.
2004. Genetic versus morphological differentiation of
  Old World buzzards (genus Buteo; Accipitridae). Zoologica Scripta
Mebs, T. 1964. Zur Biologie und Populationsdynamik des Mäusebussards,
  Buteo buteo. Journal für Ornithologie 105:247-306.
Melde, M. 1983. [The Common Buzzard]. Neue Brehm-Bücherei no. 195. A.
  Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg, Germany. (In Germany)
Orta, J. 1994. Eurasian Buzzard. P. 185 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and
  J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Tubbs, C.R. 1974. The buzzard. David & Charles, Newton Abbot.

Sites of Interest:
Species account, with an emphasis on European populations.
Common Buzzard photos.

Agostini, Nicolantonio
Curtis, Odette
Galushin, Vladimir
Gercken, Marian
Ivanovski, Vladimir
Jais, Markus
Kang, Seunggu
Kothe, Sudhanshu
Nadjafzadeh, Mirjam
Pokrovsky, Ivan
Rodríguez, Airam
Schröpfer, Libor
Sergio, Fabrizio
Simmons, Rob
Smith, Keith B.
Smith, George
Tapia, Luis
Widmer, Eric
Zuberogoitia, Iñigo

Last modified: 1/7/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 20 Oct. 2021

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